Behold! A young John Barrymore, and his third wife, Drew’s grandmother Dolores Costello. He looks dashing (if a bit dyspeptic) and you could wear her entire wedding wardrobe today and absolutely no one would bat an eye. They met when starring in a film together and, per his Wiki, “[h]e later said that ‘I fell in love with her instantly. This time I knew I was right,’ and the couple began an affair. Costello’s father was angered by the relationship, but his complaints were ignored by both Costello and her mother: Costello’s parents separated and were divorced as a result.” First of all, btw, he was not right. Second: Can you imagine your parents getting a divorce over your romance? DRAMA!
Speaking of drama, Barrymore’s Wiki is a NON-STOP DRAMATHON and as a person who didn’t really know much about him for whatever reason, even just skimming it has been an experience. It truly has….everything. Here are some phrases that jumped out in a cursory scoll, and are not even the half of it:
a) “he was expelled [from Georgetown] in November 1897, probably after being caught waiting in a brothel…1897 was an emotionally challenging year for Barrymore: he lost his virginity when he was seduced by his step-mother, Mamie Floyd.” YIKES.
b) “In March, his father had a mental breakdown as a result of tertiary syphilis, and Barrymore took him to Bellevue hospital. He was later transferred to a private institution in Amityville, Long Island, where he suffered a ‘rapid descent into madness.'” Also yikes!!!
c) After being low-key caught up in the Stanford White murder (!!!!!!!!), “Barrymore was fired from his newspaper position after producing a poor illustration for the paper while hungover. He spent time as a poster designer but realized it was not lucrative enough for his lifestyle.” Okay, that bit is relatable.
d) “He had also tried to enlist in the U.S. Army following the country’s entry into World War I, but Army doctors discovered that he had varicose veins.” Whom amongst, etc.
e) “He later said: ‘The right side of my face looks like a fried egg.'” Truly we’ve all been there.
f) “Although Errol Flynn’s memoirs claim that the film director Raoul Walsh ‘borrowed’ Barrymore’s body before burial to leave his corpse propped in a chair for a drunken Flynn to discover when he returned home, Gene Fowler, a close friend of Barrymore, stayed with the body all night and denies the story.” !!!!!!!!! Is this the Weekend at Bernie’s origin story?! Calm down, Errol Flynn’s memoirs.
This doesn’t even get into the four marriages and the time he starred in a Broadway play and just improv’ed the whole thing, including greeting his friends in the audience. (Which was considered at the time unprofessional but also extremely fun for everyone.) Clearly, I need a good biography, stat. Please send one over, Drew!
As far as Dolores goes, she left him once he started cheating on her (he was not a man of great marital fidelity) (he left the mistress and came back to Dolores and then the mistress chased him back to Los Angeles and used the tabloid press to ask him to come back to her! And eventually he did?! Phew!) (this marriage also did not last), and then all THIS happened to her:
In 1939, she married Dr. John Vruwink, an obstetrician who was her physician during her pregnancies, but they divorced in 1950. Costello spent the remaining years of her life in semi-seclusion, managing an avocado farm. Her film career was largely ruined by the destructive effects of early film makeup, which ravaged her complexion too severely to camouflage…. In the 1970s her house was inundated in a flash flood.
You lost me at “married my OBGYN” and then got me back again at “I’m gonna chuck it all for an avocado farm.” A lot happened to these people!
She was a flat-out dish, though — and he certainly was working that fried-egg right side:
Drew rather resembles her, no?